With the start of a new year comes new programming and the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN) was busy getting people geared up to deliver that programming earlier this month.
Two training sessions were held virtually and simultaneously: the TEEN Intramural program, which is geared toward youth between the ages of 13 through 19 and an after-school program for those between the ages of six through 12.
A total of 11 communities around the territory will be taking part in both.
Dawn Currie MacKinnon, RPAN’s executive director, was looking after the facilitation of both modules and said it was another chance to make a difference in the territory for young people.
“RPAN is excited to be working with youth leaders to support leadership and skill development so that they are able to successfully implement programs in their communities,” she said.
The TEEN Intramural program is a pilot and those who have gone through the training will be setting up intramural leagues and sports for teens in their community.
Currie MacKinnon said it’s a way to help fill the gap between those who get the chance to travel and play sports and those who may not get the chance.
“Take soccer, for example: only nine kids can travel to play on a team and it’s only those nine who will be practicing for the most part,” she said. “This gives those kids who don’t get the chance to be a part of that team the opportunity to play in a league and feel like they are part of a team.”
She pointed out that anyone who signs up to play will be put on a team to avoid what’s known as “stacking,” where one team loads up with the best players, thereby leaving the rest of the teams with weaker rosters.
“They’ll be on a team for two months and the plan is to have them play at least two times per week,” she added. “We’ll hand out points for participation, fair play and for wins.”
Once is all comes to an end, each community will host an awards celebration with an overall champion declared. Fair play awards will also be handed out.
Currie MacKinnon said the sports being played will include dodgeball and floor hockey, among others.
“I’m hoping we’ll be able to get funding and make this an opportunity to help out community athletic organizations,” she said.
“They’ll get the chance to develop a logo of some kind and even hang banners in the community gym.”
The after-school program will be running for the third year and Currie MacKinnon said it’s an extension of sorts of the popular Get Happy Summer Day Camp program, which is also operated by RPAN.
“Some of the people who we’ve trained have been through the Get Happy training so there’s that continuity,” she said. “We gear the after-school program toward the younger kids because what do you do for the six-year-olds? Sports are usually played by the older kids and the younger ones need something to do as well.”
Some of the activities will be similar to what goes on during the summer camp but one thing the after-school program will have to be wary of is Covid-19, specifically the regulations surrounding capacity within gymnasiums and community halls. Currie MacKinnon said as it stands, there is a cap of 25 people allowed indoors at one time, including staff, so there will have to be some creativity.
“Most communities have two-hour time slots for groups and so we have to come up with a way to make the schedules work,” she said. “If you have 45 kids register, we may have to look at dividing up into two groups twice a week, 45 minutes at a time.”
That gap in between time would be for staff to clean and wipe everything down, she added.
Both programs are scheduled to start on Feb. 1 and will run until the end of March.